Bathsheba and Advent Peace

bathshebaThis week is the last week of advent, a season in the church calendar when we observe a time of expectation on the arrival of Christ’s birth.  This year at The Table we’ve set up a dialog b/t these attributes and the women on Jesus’ genealogy.  In Matthew’s gospel, he lists 5 women in a genealogy dominated by men.  We’ve been asking, how can these women teach us? We began w/ a dialog b/t the advent attribute of hope and the life of Tamar.  Then we dialoged w/ Rahab and Faith. Last week we looked at Ruth and the attribute of love. And now we dialog w/ the story of Bathsheba and the attribute of Peace.

We will be looking at David and his role in Bathsheba’s life.  As we’ll read from 2 Samuel 11-12, you’ll see that the key to this story is David being an idiot.  He’s not doing what he was intended to do.  I think in these times, when we are not doing what we should be doing (not doing something you know is right) the result is chaos.  And as we consider the Advent attribute of peace, chaos and disorder are the antithesis.

 

The Story

In 2 Samuel 11-12 we see the result of David not doing what he should have been doing.  Bathsheba was a victim of David’s passivity. So as you read 2 Samuel 11-12 ask yourself: How did David create his chaos? How did God redeem the chaos? In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. This is a key verse of the passage.  As a king at this time – as David, the one who was a known warrior, known as being God’s warrior – his place was in battle. “At the time when kings go off to war,” King David stayed home.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. “At the time when kings go off to war,” David had some free time, and got bored.  He took advantage of his power, and slept w/ another man’s wife.

The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. David is trying to cover up his sin, by trying to make it seem Uriah impregnated his wife.  But Uriah was a righteous man who knew his place, when David didn’t.  10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” You wonder if Uriah wasn’t thinking, “You need to be out there too.”

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home. David’s plan is not working, so it’s time for plan B.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” 16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. 18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’ ” Joab is being tactful, saying, we lost a battle (we threw the fight) b/c of your command, and men died who shouldn’t have.  David’s sin had bigger consequences.

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.” 25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” 26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord. David concludes plan B, and the results were the death of innocent soldiers, and a marriage based on a faulty foundation.  “At the time when kings go off to war,” David stayed home, got bored, and fell into sin.  He schemed, and families were broken.  Then the prophet Nathan spoke God’s truth to David.

12:11 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ” David is exposed and confronted.  The things done in secret are brought to light. 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”  God surprisingly forgives David, but there are consequences to his sin, innocent men have died, and now, God will take an innocent away too.

15 After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.” 19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” 20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. 21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” 22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” David’s heart has returned to its normal worship focused place, even in the midst of mourning.

24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah. God redeems the death of the 1st child, by giving Bathsheba another.

26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.” In other words, he’s saying, “Come, do what you were intended to do” 29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem. David does what he was intended to do, be a king leading his people, and God blesses him.

So in summary, David was a rock star warrior, then he got lazy and passive.  He neglected what he was supposed to be doing.  He got bored and sinned.  The result was he victimized a married woman, and many innocent people died.  His sin is confronted and he is punished, then he goes and does what he should do.  Overall, we see that God redeemed David’s laziness.  There’s a movement of death to life.

 

The Point

So what does this have to do w/ Advent and peace?  Why is Bathsheba included in the genealogy of Jesus?  Her story points us to Jesus.  In this story we see that the result of sin is death, the consequences of not doing what we’re intended to do is death.  Sin results in death, and none of us are exempt. We need redemption and forgiveness.  Sin results in death, and so Jesus died so we wouldn’t have to.  The movements of this passage are the same movements of redemption of our story.  b/c of the work of JC, we move from death to life, and that life is living the life we were intended to live.

 

The Difference

The difference of it all is that through Jesus we are enabled to live the full life God intended us to live.  When we are out of that grace, out of God’s plan, the result is chaos and disorder, resulting in death.  But, the gift of JC is the gift of peace.  Living into God’s intentions results in orderly living and peace.

So the call of Advent is a call to reorient our lives to Jesus, to realize we are just like David, and we need help, to realize that through Jesus we find that redemption.  In Him we find hope, faith, love, and peace.  So may you live into the fullness of your intended life, rooted and directed to Him.

Amen.

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